With cases accelerating in many parts of the world due to a post-holiday bump and pushed by more transmissible virus variants in some locations, the world 2 days ago saw its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
It may seem counterintuitive, but health officials say that even after you get vaccinated against COVID-19, you still need to practice the usual pandemic precautions, at least for a while. That means steering clear of crowds, continuing to wear a good mask in public, maintaining 6 feet or more of distance from people outside your household and frequently washing your hands. We talked to infectious disease specialists to get a better understanding of why.
Global scientists are intensifying research into COVID-19, as the World Health Organization (WHO) moves to expand its scientific collaboration and monitoring of emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
LATE LAST WEEK, Charles Chiu’s lab at UC San Francisco received a shipment of test tubes from the California Department of Public Health. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. For almost a year, Chiu, an infectious disease doctor, has been collaborating with the state agency to conduct genetic sequencing on samples from people who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 mutates as it moves through a population. Most of these mutations are trivial and don’t change how the virus behaves. But by making a record of these mutations, scientists can track the coronavirus’s spread and better understand the origins of different outbreaks.
Veteran virus trackers say they are chronicling something never before seen — the suppression of virtually every common respiratory and gastrointestinal virus besides the novel coronavirus. They theorize that is largely due to global shutdowns, mask-wearing and a host of other health protocols aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.
ON MONDAY MORNING, when representatives from the drug company Pfizer said that its Covid-19 vaccine appears to be more than 90 percent effective, stocks soared, White House officials rushed to (falsely) claim credit, and sighs of relief went up all around the internet. “Dear World. We have a vaccine! Best news since January 10,” tweeted Florian Krammer, a virologist and vaccinologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (who also happens to be a participant in the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine trial).
Immunity from Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company said on Monday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference. The drugmaker said it was confident that the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology it used was well suited to deploy a vaccine based on the new variant of the coronavirus which has emerged in a handful of countries.
A coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac showed “general efficacy” of 50.4% in a late-stage trial in Brazil, researchers said on Tuesday, barely enough for regulatory approval and far short of earlier indications. [Related: Brazil announces ‘fantastic’ results for Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine, but details remain sketchy – Science]
Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, will become a Covid-19 vaccination distribution center, Orange County officials announced Monday, capable of vaccinating thousands of people each day as the iconic theme park remains shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As vaccinations roll out across the country, a few people have incurred serious allergic reactions. Though the rate is very low, it is still higher than that for the seasonal flu vaccine. Despite that, the CDC is sticking with its recommendation that most people should still get the shots. Emma Court explains why.
More than three quarters (76.5%) of 1,655 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, had at least one symptom 6 months after discharge, reports a Lancet study published late last week.
Antibodies to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) decline during the weeks after infection, in some cases falling below the threshold for seropositivity within 2 months, according to a national study of health care workers.
We performed viral culture of respiratory specimens in 118 SARS-CoV-2 infected healthcare workers (HCW), approximately 2 weeks after symptom onset. Only one HCW (0.8%) had a positive culture. No factors for prolonged viral shedding were identified. Infectivity is resolved in nearly all HCWs approximately 2 weeks after symptom onset.
COVID pneumonia is significantly different from pneumonia caused by other causes, reports a new study. It shows how hijacks the lungs’ own immune cells and uses them to spread across the lung over weeks. The infection leaves damage in its wake and fuels the fever, low blood pressure and damage to the kidneys, brain, heart and other organs in patients with COVID-19. Scientists discovered a target for treating COVID pneumonia.
We are currently faced with the question of how the CoV-2 severity may change in the years ahead. Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived. Our model, incorporating these components of immunity, recapitulates both the current severity of CoV-2 and the benign nature of HCoVs, suggesting that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold. We predict a different outcome for an emergent coronavirus that causes severe disease in children. These results reinforce the importance of behavioral containment during pandemic vaccine rollout, while prompting us to evaluate scenarios for continuing vaccination in the endemic phase.
Official Reporting for January 12, 2021
World Health Organization
Confirmed Cases: 89 707 115
Deaths: 1 940 352
Confirmed Cases: 84 532 824
Deaths: 1 845 597
Confirmed Cases: 91,539,016
Total cases: 22,522,749 (+199,793 New Cases)
Total deaths: 375,124 (+1,957 New Deaths)
Maryland: Governor Hogan Announces Two Cases of B-117 Strain of SARS-CoV-2 Identified In Maryland – Baynet
California: California lifting stay-home order for Sacramento region – ABC
Sweden: Swedish COVID-19 cases cross 500,000 mark as hospitals near limit – Reuters
Ireland: Ireland has the world’s highest Covid-19 rate. How did it go so wrong? – CNN
Singapore: How Singapore Has Kept the Coronavirus Off Campus – Reuters
Japan: Japan reports 4 cases of new strain variant of SARS-CoV-2 in travelers from Amazonas, Brazil
– Outbreak News Today
Science and Tech
COVID-19 patients still have symptoms 6 months later; interferon may be helpful treatment after all – Reuters
Psychological and Sociological Impact
6-month consequences of COVID-19 in patients discharged from hospital: a cohort study – The Lancet
First detection of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein N501 mutation in Italy in August, 2020 – The Lancet
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
Amid an ongoing effort by Google to counter the deluge of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, the tech giant said Tuesday it will devote up to $3 million to back fact-checking initiatives to counter vaccine misinformation, which it says has emerged as a particularly troubling phenomenon as global immunization efforts get underway.
Coping in 2020 (and probably most of 2021)